Cora Belle Thomas-Beasley, daughter of the late Clarence Weldon Thomas and Bessie Bernice Thompson, was born on April 16, 1945 in the New Hope Community (Oktaha, Oklahoma). She was the fourth of ten living children to this union. On Wednesday March 6, 2013, this faithful Christian and Public Servant was called to rest.
Cora Belle accepted Christ as her personal savior at an early age at First Baptist Church Summit and sang in the Junior Choir. In her adult life, she served as a Sunday School Teacher and Church Clerk at Deans Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. She was the key-note speaker at countless church conferences in the State of Oklahoma and within the National Baptist Convention. She served several terms as the President of the Collate District Women’s Mission Association (WMA). She was a member of Deans Chapel Missionary Baptist Church from the mid-1980’s until her death.
Cora Belle grew up in Summit Oklahoma and attended Du Bois Grade and Junior High Schools prior to her entrance and matriculation through the historic Manual Training High School in 1963. Cora Belle was an exceptional student and participated in a plethora of high school and community activities. She was a member of the State and National Honor Society, New Homemakers of America and was Home Room President. In the fall of 1963, Cora Belle enrolled in Langston University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics. While at Langston University, she was initiated into the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and was very active in the sorority among many other social and professional activities including membership in Phi Delta Kappa education sorority.
Cora Belle married Billy Gene Beasley on March 16, 1968 and to this union a daughter, Victoria was born. She was also blessed with a step-son, Victor.
Cora Belle’s thirty plus year career in education began as a high school home economics instructor in Idabel, Oklahoma. She returned to Muskogee and joined the first group of Africa-American teachers integrated in the Muskogee Public School system following the federally mandated decree to comply with Brown vs the Topeka Board of Education verdict in 1954 and implemented in the State of Oklahoma beginning in 1970. She taught home economics at Alice Robertson, Sadler, and West Junior High Schools. After seven years of service in Idabel and Muskogee school systems, she furthered her education at Northeastern State University and graduated with a Masters of Arts degree in Education. With a strong teacher-student relationship, Cora Belle believed in participatory classes and quickly became the surrogate mother to countless teenagers in Muskogee County. She is fondly called “Ms. Beasley” by several former students who transferred their home economics skills into viable businesses in Muskogee.
Cora Belle was a strong and highly skilled professional who participated in activities to insure that teachers were rewarded based on their merits within the education system. She participated in the Muskogee Teachers Association (MTA) and served as the association’s treasurer for several years. She received several education awards including Muskogee District’s Teacher of the year and West Junior High’s Educator of the year. She visited two West Africa countries (Mali and Guinea) during her school tenure and conducted several seminars to share information and artifacts with students on the history of the countries. A physical disability hastened her retirement from the Muskogee Public School system in 1999 but early retirement did not stop her zeal for educating children.
During her retirement, she organized and taught cooking, sewing, and history classes at various events across Muskogee County and within the State of Oklahoma. Cora Belle acquired her culinary skills at an early age on the farm in Summit, Oklahoma. She quickly became the sister that our mother frequently called upon to support her in meal preparation and babysitting the family’s younger siblings. Her genuine care for her immediate family carried over into adult life by frequently opening her home to family, church, sorority members, and her classmates from the Manual Training High School Class of 1963. Countless people consulted with Cora Belle to assist in planning special events and family reunions. She also consulted with organizations and personally catered events including family gatherings. If anyone had a question on the history of Summit, Oklahoma, Muskogee School System, and State of Oklahoma Christian organizations, they sought the input from Cora Belle. She was historian for her bi-annual family reunions and will be sorely missed at the reunion being planned for July 2013. Cora Belle’s quest for knowledge prompted travel throughout the United States and to the Africa and Asia continents. Cora’s professional achievements culminated in her induction into Who’s Who Among African-Americans in the United States of America.
Cora Belle was clearly “The Anchor” of the Thomas family and became the mother of younger siblings following the death of both parents.
She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers.
She leaves to cherish her memories her husband Billy Beasley, Muskogee Oklahoma; daughter, Victoria Beasley (Donald) Columbus Ohio; Step-son, Victor Beasley, Tulsa, Oklahoma; four brothers, Dr. Wilbur G. Thomas, Muskogee, Oklahoma; Philemon M. Thomas (Rebecca) and Gary L. Thomas, Muskogee, Oklahoma; three sisters Betty L. Gibson, Long Island, New York; Lurlene McDaniel (Earnest) Carrollton, Texas; Betsy Lee Oakley, Muskogee, Oklahoma; Debra Fields (Ronald) Garland, Texas; two aunts, Reeder Walker, Taft Oklahoma; Pearline Wallace, Muskogee Oklahoma and one uncle, Ozelle Thompson Fresno, California; and a host of nieces, nephews, a special great grand-daughter (Ja’Niyah), cousins, and friends.
A Home Going Celebration will be conducted Saturday, March 16, 2013, 10:00 a.m., at Boulevard Christian Church, 1700 W. Shawnee, Muskogee, OK; with Rev. Milton Colbert, eulogizing. Interment will follow in New Hope Cemetery, Oktaha OK.
Visitation will be Friday, 1-7 p.m.
On line condolence and registry may be expressed at www.houseofwinn.com
The family has been cared for by the Winn family at Granger-House of Winn Funeral Home.